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Amy Terrill addresses Auckland City of Music strategy launch

Aucklanders warmly welcomed Music Canada Executive Vice President, Amy Terrill, as the keynote speaker at their recent launch of the Auckland Music Strategy, Te Rautaki Puoro o Tāmaki Makaurau. Terrill provided an international perspective to the event, commenting on the growth of the Music Cities movement, Toronto’s experience, and providing some considerations for Auckland as it implements its three year strategy.

Read More: Auckland joins UNESCO creative cities network

The event, which took place at The Wintergarden, a venue within the historic Civic Theatre,  began with a Māori welcome speech and song, Miki whakatau & waiata, demonstrating the importance of music to the indigenous community,

“For Māori, music is a divine gift passed down by the gods.  It is embedded in traditional ceremony and preserves stories of the past.  These stories live on today, woven into our culture and city.”

Photo: Serene Stevenson

Other performers included Irene and Saia Folau.

Photo: Serene Stevenson

Auckland Council, one of the key partners in the initiative, was well represented with several elected councillors and key staff in the room and remarks by Mayor Phil Goff. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, unable to be there in person, expressed her support through a video message. PM Ardern recalled the first time she was “pitched” on the idea of Auckland as a UNESCO City of Music, and congratulated the industry and civic leaders who worked on the effort over the last two years.

Photo: Serene Stevenson

Photo: Serene Stevenson

The leading proponents of the initiative, Recorded Music NZ and APRA AMCOS, were represented in remarks by Anthony Healey.  The strategy cites Music Canada’s groundbreaking report, The Mastering of a Music City, and Healey noted the importance of this research in the steering committee’s efforts.

In her keynote remarks, Terrill congratulated Auckland on joining “the growing number of cities who are deliberately looking at ways to grow their music economy – many, like Auckland, recognizing a strong music community that has already been built organically.”

Photo: Serene Stevenson

She pointed to the value of the “network of cities, of music industry professionals, artists and academics – all who are sharing experience and wisdom to support these intentional efforts to grow the local music economy.”  

Throughout her remarks, Terrill provided concrete examples of strategies and tactics that have been deployed successfully in other parts of the world, some of which might be helpful for Auckland.  However, she was careful to point out that there is no “cookie cutter approach” and that the way the Auckland strategy is “rooted in what makes your city unique – the diversity of voices and sounds – your unique cultural identity, heritage and position in Australasia,” is very important.

“I see that the City of Auckland values the integration of arts and culture in everyday lives and is working to stimulate the participation of Aucklanders in the arts and employment in the creative sector.  I understand you aspire to be a city where “talent wants to live.” The development of this strategy and inclusion in the UNESCO Creative Cities network is a great first step,” Terrill said in closing. “Ngā mihi nui,” meaning I wish you well.

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New Edition of Keys to a Music City Report Launched at Music Policy Forum Summit in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Music Policy Forum Summit took place this past weekend at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The event brought together a collection of musicians, researchers, policymakers, industry and nonprofit leaders, and other stakeholders for a wide-ranging exploration of some of the most promising and exciting thought leadership in the music and policy space.

Music Canada’s EVP and Music Policy Forum co-founder Amy Terrill was a speaker at the summit, presenting a workshop entitled Bridging the Gap: Effective Models of Local Governments in Partnership with Local Music Communities. The workshop centered on sharing insights from Music Canada’s report Keys to a Music City: Examining the Merits of Music Offices, Boards, and Night Mayors, which was released in May 2018 at Canadian Music Week. Since then, the report has been updated to include the experiences of three additional cities whose unique approaches to developing music ecosystems offer a valuable addition to the paper.

You can read this newly released version of Keys to a Music City here.

Prior to the conference,  Amy Terrill was a guest on podcast and radio show Songbyrd Radio. Along with a representative from Listen Local First DC (another sponsor of the MPF), Terrill and her fellow co-founder Michael Bracy spoke about the upcoming conference and discussed how their field is working to strengthen music ecosystems locally – and globally.

During the second day of the summit, Terrill also moderated a panel entitled True Adventures in Launching a Music Strategy. The panel featured practitioners from cities at various stages between vision and implementation: former Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle; Lynn Ross, Cultural Planner at the City of Vancouver; Allison Harnden, Nighttime Economy Manager at City of Pittsburgh; Nik Ives-Allison, General Manager for the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition.

Check out some highlights from the panel below, and thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Music Policy Forum Summit.

 

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Playback 2018: Executive Vice President Amy Terrill recaps Music Canada’s accomplishments from the last 12 months

On October 16, 2018, at The Great Hall in Toronto, Music Canada hosted Playback 2018, our annual industry dialogue and celebration.

Close to 100 members of the Canadian music industry were in attendance, including representatives from record labels, awards programs, royalty collectives and funding institutions, as well as artists, journalists, politicians and other government representatives.

Universal Music Canada President Jeffrey Remedios opened the event with a reflection on the state of the industry before Music Canada Executive Vice President Amy Terrill recapped Music Canada’s major accomplishments and new initiatives from the last 12 months.

Those accomplishments include our work to close the Value Gap in Canada, the launch of Music Canada Cares and its first program, The Three Rs Music Program, exciting partnerships with other industry groups, and our latest research report, Keys to a Music City: Examining the Merits of Music Offices, Boards, and Night Mayors.

You can watch Terrill’s full presentation below.

Near the end of the presentation, Terrill gave the audience a sneak peek of a just-released video taking you behind the scenes of the production process of our Gold and Platinum award plaques.

Following the annual review, Terrill invited Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson to the stage for a special announcement. Henderson shared preliminary results of Music Canada’s year-long, comprehensive governance review that Terrill had announced a year earlier at Playback 2017. To learn more about the changes resulting from the review, read our release.

Stay tuned for more video content from Playback 2018 in the coming days, including a keynote presentation from professor and author Debora Spar, and a ‘fireside chat’ between Recording Industry Association of America Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman and musician, label owner and festival founder, Miranda Mulholland.

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Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage releases new report examining cultural hubs and cultural districts

Earlier this month, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released a report entitled A Vision For Cultural Hubs And Districts In Canada. This report was the outcome of a Committee study on cultural districts and hubs in Canada, with a particular focus on determining the role they play in city building, their economic impacts, their effects on arts and culture, and how the federal government can better foster and support the development of these spaces.

The Committee held eight meetings earlier this year, with Music Canada’s Executive Vice President Amy Terrill appearing as a witness during this process.

The report provides a summary of the federal government’s current initiatives regarding cultural hubs and districts, and outlines various policy perspectives on key related topics including: the social and economic impact of cultural hubs and districts, the various collaborative approaches to developing cultural hubs and districts, barriers to securing funding, and the important role of infrastructure considerations. The report also contains 18 Committee recommendations to the Government of Canada.

One of the key issues discussed in the report is how exactly a cultural hub and cultural district can be defined. Witnesses throughout the eight Committee meetings provided a number of different interpretations of what constitutes a hub or district, offering definitions that ranged from fairly encompassing to more rigidly defined. Music Canada has submitted our own recommendation regarding how cultural hubs and cultural districts should be categorized, in addition to recommending that the Department of Canadian Heritage’s definition for cultural hubs be expanded. It was encouraging to see that the official Committee recommendation reflected this assertion, with the specific language calling on the Department to “broaden the definition of a cultural hub to, among others, consider new technological art forms.”

Another important topic highlighted in the report outlined the various collaborative approaches that can be taken to developing cultural hubs and cultural districts. Alongside the role of the government, partnerships have been found to be the key to the successful creation of projects relating to cultural hubs or districts. Indeed, as EVP Amy Terrill highlighted in her testimony before the Committee, collaboration between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors is a critical component of cultivating a flourishing network of cultural spaces and sustaining a vibrant cultural sector.

Other key issues that were outlined in the report include:

  • The social impact of cultural hubs and cultural districts, such as their role in empowering local communities and contribution to fostering inclusion
  • The economic impact of cultural districts and hubs, with a particular focus on their role as economic drivers and tourism generators
  • The distinct roles of federal, provincial, and municipal governments in encouraging the development of cultural hubs and districts
  • The barriers to securing operational funding for cultural spaces
  • The potential of introducing tax measures and incentives to support the development of cultural hubs and districts, and other types of social public spaces
  • The challenges posed by a lack of affordable spaces in urban centres and the impact of rising real estate prices on public spaces

Read the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s full report on the House of Commons website.

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Toronto’s musical history recognized in Heritage Toronto Awards’ 2018 Historical Writing: Book nominees

Heritage Toronto has announced 18 nominees for its 2018 Historical Writing prize, recognizing English language non-fiction books or e-books. The Heritage Toronto Awards “showcase extraordinary contributions to the conservation and promotion of Toronto’s heritage, honouring individuals, groups and organizations for their efforts.”

Three of this year’s nominees for the Historical Writing: Book category pay homage to Toronto’s legendary musicians and music history:

Peter Goddard: The Great Gould

The Great Gould, with the support of the Glenn Gould Estate, draws on interviews with Glenn Gould to present a freshly revealing portrait of the musician’s unsettled life, his radical decision to stop playing concerts, his career as a radio innovator, and his deep response to the Canadian environment. “

Goddard is an accomplished Canadian music journalist and historian who won the 1973 JUNO Award for Music Journalist of the Year. He has also written books on Ronnie Hawkins, Triumph, David Bowie, and many more musicians, as well as his 1989 book Shakin’ All Over: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years in Canada.

 

 

David McPherson: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

“From country and rockabilly to rock ‘n’ roll, punk, and more, the live music venue has evolved with the times and trends—always keeping pace with the music.  This book celebrates the legacy of the Horseshoe Tavern, and its importance to Toronto music culture today.”

David McPherson is an author specializing in music and golf. His most recent book, The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern explores the 70-year legacy of the storied Queen Street West venue. In an interview with NOW Magazine, McPherson said “When it comes to live music in North America, there are few places that can match the storied building at 370 Queen West. The Horseshoe is a beacon for music lovers, a pilgrimage place for those who love and understand its significance as part of Toronto’s rich musical landscape.”

 

Nicholas Jennings: Lightfoot

Lightfoot chronicles the life and career of Gordon Lightfoot, unquestionably one of Canada’s greatest songwriters. No matter how much his fame grew abroad, Lightfoot has always come home to Toronto.”

Nicholas Jennings is a renowned music journalist and historian who has written on music for Maclean’s, Billboard, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, among many others. His books on Canadian music include Before the Gold Rush: Flashbacks to the Dawn of the Canadian Sound (Penguin) and Fifty Years of Music: The Story of EMI Music Canada (Macmillan). He is passionate about the preservation of Toronto’s music history and in addition to his writing, he also leads walking tours on the musical history of Yorkville and the Yonge Street strip, and he was instrumental in the preservation of the historic “Sam the Record Man” sign which now hangs above Yonge Dundas Square.

 

In Music Canada’s globe-spanning research, music history was found to be an important element of building a Music City, and many Music Cities, including Liverpool, New Orleans and Nashville are steeped in music history. As Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson notes in The Mastering of a Music City, “A great Music City knows its music history – you need to know your own story.”

Congratulations to these outstanding Heritage Toronto Awards Historical Writing: Book nominees, and thank you for your work to preserve Toronto’s rich musical history. Congratulations are also due to all other nominees for the 2018 Historical Writing: Book Award – Bruce Newton, John Lorinc, Jane Farrow, Stephanie Chambers, Maureen Fitzgerald, Ed Jackson, Tim McCaskell, Rebecka Sheffield, Rahim Thawer, Tatum Taylor, Tim Morawetz, Scott Kennedy, Shawn Micallef, Robert C. Vipond, Roberto Perin, Phillip Gordon Mackintosh, Karolyn Smardz Frost, Lance Hornby, Adam Bunch, Timothy J. Stewart, Pedro Mendes, Terry Beauchamp, Trevor Cole and Gare Joyce.

The Heritage Toronto Awards ceremony takes place on Monday, October 29 at the Carlu (444 Yonge Street). Tickets can be purchased on the Heritage Toronto website.

 

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City of Vancouver approves measures to help boost music industry and creative sectors

On July 10th, Vancouver’s City Council voted to take steps towards implementing measures that better support the city’s music ecosystem. Council came to a unanimous decision to approve a grant of $400,000 to help provide funding for “Vancouver-based music-focused projects,” as well as to enhance the growth of accessible, vibrant cultural spaces within the city.

The approved recommendations arose from two reports presented to Council that provided policy suggestions for additional support for the city’s music community and industry: the Vancouver Music Strategy Interim Report and Making Space for Arts and Culture: 2018 Cultural Infrastructure Plan.

“Vancouver’s vibrant, diverse arts and culture community puts us on the map as a city with a thriving creative scene,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a media release. “These actions will crank up support for our growing arts and culture community, create and preserve important spaces, and focus the city on ensuring that creative people are able to stay and build a future in Vancouver.”

One of the report’s key recommendations that was approved is the establishment of a temporary full-time staff position within the City that will act as a resource and advocate for the music community, and be responsible for facilitating the completion of the final Vancouver Music Strategy report. Of the total $400,000 grant amount, $100,00 will be allocated towards supporting this staff position.

Other proposed future measures include the development of a Music Office and the creation of a Music Advisory Council. These policy measures echo those recommended in Music Canada’s groundbreaking 2015 report, The Mastering of a Music City.

Also included in the Music Strategy interim report were the findings of the recently released Vancouver Music Ecosystem Study, facilitated by the Music BC Industry Association, Creative BC, Sound Diplomacy, and other key partners.

Some of the study’s key findings include:

  • Economic Impact: the economic impact of music in Vancouver is over $690 million (per year).
  • Employment: the music ecosystem supports a total of 14,540 jobs, including 7,945 direct music jobs in Vancouver for musicians, venues, festivals, music publishers, music teachers, studios & sound engineers, managers and labels, and music press and marketing.
  • Income/Wages: the employment impact of Vancouver’s music industry is over $520M annually.

Read the full Vancouver Music Ecosystem report here.

 

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Toronto Music Advisory Council highlights key milestones at last meeting of the term

The Toronto Music Advisory Council’s (TMAC) final meeting of the year took place on June 20th, 2018. Committee members discussed a variety of critical issues and developments, with the Working Groups providing progress updates on a number of their agenda items.

TMAC Co-Chairs City Councillor Josh Colle and Spencer Sutherland also presented a written summary of TMAC’s key milestones during the meeting, emphasizing the accomplishments that helped achieve the committee’s priority items.

Key highlights of the summary document are featured below.

Creating opportunities to support local musicians: major accomplishments include initiatives like Arts/Music in the Parks; the Toronto Music Directory; the YYZ Live series; and City Hall Live. Several pilot programs are still yet to be launched, as they are pending official Council approval. Some of the most notable include a pilot program regarding musician loading zones, tour bus parking, and an entertainment zone study.

Addressing regulatory burdens of music venues: this includes policies that aim to streamline regulations and permit processes or remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for venues and spaces.  One of the early major accomplishments was eliminating the enforcement against music venues for illegal postering in 2015. Additionally, TMAC has played an important role in the development of various ongoing noise bylaw-related initiatives at the City of Toronto, such as the development of a Terms of Reference for Noise Impact Studies for new developments within 120 metres of existing live music venues.

Measures to protect music venues: TMAC has long advocated for the development of policies that protect existing music venues, such as the establishment of a live music venue certification program and the proposed creation of tax benefits for local live venues.

However, one of TMAC’s major accomplishments was its role in endorsing the adoption of a version of the “Agent of Change” principle in Toronto. This principle has now been adopted and is a culmination of several recent decisions at City Hall.

Arising from PG29.4 TO Core: Downtown Plan Official Plan Amendment, the proposed measures are intended to encourage the retention of live music venues, by:

  • Ensuring that live music venues can continue to function without noise-related impact on new residential development, meaning that:
    • New live music venues located within Mixed Use Areas 1, 2, 3, 4 and Regeneration Areas will be designed and constructed to minimize noise from the premises and provide acoustic attenuation measures that would protect residential uses; and
    • New mixed-use developments located within Mixed Use Areas 1, 2, 3, 4 and Regeneration Areas will be designed and constructed to include acoustic attenuation measures on-site, or within the building design, to mitigate noise levels from adjacent indoor live music venues and from outdoor live music venues.
  • Requring an advisory to be implemented for newly developed residential units within 120 meters of a live music venue.

Supporting the development of a robust night-time economy: TMAC has advocated for the City of Toronto to take steps towards establishing measures to support live venues and other night-time operators. One of the major accomplishments is the implementation of an 18-month nightlife economy study, led by the Responsible Hospitality Institute.

Promoting Toronto internationally and fostering alliances with global music cities: notable accomplishments in this arena include the successful development of recurring initiatives, such as the Tale of Two Cities event series; an Austin-Toronto Music Business Summit that took place in 2016, with a new summit in development for late 2018; a series of SXSW activations between 2015 to 2018, and more.

 

The full summary document of TMAC’s accomplishments can be found here.

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Music Cities Summit 2018: ‘How Public Spaces Can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies’

On Saturday May 12th, Music Canada held its third annual international Music Cities summit The Mastering of a Music City during Canadian Music Week. City professionals, policy-makers, industry executives, and music community members all gathered to discuss topics related to the value of music, its economic impact, and its relationship to innovative city planning and creative entrepreneurship. Click here to view more recaps from the summit.

The last panel of the day was Making Space in the Public Realm: How Public Spaces Can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies. It examined how cities are utilizing publicly-owned buildings to create partnerships and develop initiatives with the music community. Business and community leaders from Denver, Seattle, Vancouver and Montreal discussed how public facilities can work in collaboration with their local music scene, and touched on issues like how to avoid competition with the private sector.

The panel was moderated by Farzaneh Hemmasi, Assistant Professor of Music & Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Panelists included: Catherine Planet, Artist & Founder of La Chasse-Balcon; Dawn Ibey, Vancouver Public Library; Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director of the Denver Housing Authority, and; Tom Mara, Executive Director, KEXP.

The discussion kicked off with Catherine Planet providing some background on La Chasse-Balcon (founded in 2014), a series of music events with the mission of bringing neighbours together in residential areas. She discussed how her time spent living in Louisiana had a profound impact and inspired her to create an initiative that celebrates the musical vivacity of her hometown of Montreal once she returned.

Planet also touched on how these types of events help blur the lines between what is perceived as solely public and private spaces, and highlighted how a balcony can act as a symbolic bridge that enables these two spaces to become connected. Through La Chasse Balcon, free outdoor concerts are staged on balconies in different neighborhoods and have the surrounding community and crowds join in the festivities.

The panel then moved on to Dawn Ibey, who spoke about the role that libraries can play in building a vibrant Music City. She discussed how one of the core business activities of the Vancouver Public Library is to ensure free public programming for adults and children, with programs that support music creation, music education, as well as the staging of performances.

Ibey highlighted some of the major accomplishments of the Vancouver Public Library, such as the partnership with Sun Life Financial in 2016 to establish the city’s first musical instrument lending library. She discussed how public libraries should be included in the development of music strategies, as they contribute towards achieving some of the essential elements featured in The Mastering of a Music City report.

Next, Ismael Guerrero spoke about the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and the impact that arts and music can have in addressing community justice issues. Through partnerships with community organizations as well as private sector initiatives, the DHA has taken steps to rebuild neighborhoods and modernize housing with a focus on building vibrant, mixed-income communities.

Guerrero touched on some of the other social entrepreneurial ventures the DHA has undertaken in recent years that are guided by a community-led, and sometimes, arts-centric framework and priorities. With investments supporting community organizations like Youth on Record, the establishment of community hubs have helped establish spaces where marginalized youth can create art and music.

The final panelist Tom Mara spoke about KEXP, a public radio, listener-supported station and non-profit arts organization in Seattle. Mara discussed the ‘music discovery-centred’ mission of KEXP to design their programming and initiatives in a way that supports music lovers, artists, and the wider arts community.

Mara touched on how one of the key commitments of KEXP is to support live music in Seattle, and highlighted how the organization stages around 300 live music performances every year at their facility. This exciting achievement was partly made possible through a partnership with the City of Seattle that enables KEXP to receive a favorable lease rate on their property, and is a key example of the different kinds of cross-sector collaboration that can exist.

The panelists went on to discuss several different topics and reflected on the unique opportunities that public facilities can provide, and that are currently not being leveraged.

To listen to the full discussion, you can watch the video below.

 

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Music Cities Summit 2018: ‘A Case Study On Cultural Heritage, Economic Development and Audience Development in New Orleans’ Panel Discussion

Grant W. Martin Photography

On Saturday May 12th, Music Canada held its third annual international Music Cities summit The Mastering of a Music City during Canadian Music Week. City professionals, policy-makers, industry executives, and music community members all gathered to discuss topics related to the value of music, its economic impact, and its relationship to innovative city planning and creative entrepreneurship. Click here to view more recaps from the summit. 

The New Orleans: A Case Study on Cultural Heritage, Economic Development and Audience Development in NOLA panel examined the role that non-profit institutions have played in promoting historical and cultural preservation within the city. Panelists discussed how their organizations work to support the broader cultural ecosystem in New Orleans and advocate for a dynamic, creative city.

The panel was moderated by Ashlye Keaton, co-founder of The ELLA Project. Panelists included: Chief Howard Miller, President of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council; Jordan Hirsch, A Closer Walk with the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation; and Melanie Merz, WWOZ 90.7 FM.

The discussion kicked off with a presentation from Melanie Merz on the significance of the non-profit community radio station WWOZ to New Orleans and the city’s vast musical community. Merz touched on the history of the station and its development into a cultural institution within NOLA.

She discussed how WWOZ came to specialize in music that represents the city’s cultural heritage, and detailed how the station became known for its support of local artists and musicians. Merz also touched on how WWOZ has become praised for its location broadcasts of live music events within the city, such as the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The panel then moved on to the next speaker Chief Howard Miller, who spoke about the history of the Mardi Gras Indians and their impact on the city’s Mardi Gras rituals and celebrations. Chief Miller recounted his experience growing up in the tribe, and detailed the extensive nine-month long process of creating hand-sewn, intricate suits for the parade each year.

Chief Miller went on to discuss the challenges faced by the Mardi Gras Indians in their fight to have their intellectual and creative ownership of their suits be legally recognized. Every year at the parade, photographs are taken of the Indians in their elaborate suits, which are then commercially sold in the forms of images, posters, as well as in magazines, books or art galleries. The heart of the issue is that these individuals are profiting off the community’s cultural and artistic creations without the Mardi Gras Indians being financially compensated for the use of their likeness.

Along with the legal assistance of Ashlye Keaton, Chief Miller successfully registered the first Indian Mardi Gras suit with the United States Copyright Office in 2010, under the basis of it being recognized as an artistic work (a sculpture), and not a piece of clothing.

The final panelist Jordan Hirsch discussed the significance of the project  A Closer Walk, an interactive map of New Orleans’ music history sites. A Closer Walk (ACW) project and site is presented by WWOZ New Orleans, the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, along with 3 other sponsors. The project aims to highlight the numerous musical sites that the city has to offer, and in particular, bring to light some of the sites that have remained unmarked or unrecognized.

Hirsch highlighted how ACW is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that features historical experts and music specialists drawing from extensive archival footage and chronicles, from both privately and publicly owned collections. The website currently has features on 104 landmarks, but the ultimate goal is to present 300 landmarks on the map in honor of New Orleans’ tricentennial in 2018.

The panelists went on to discuss several different topics and reflect on the city’s rich musical history, and how this musical legacy can be protected and promoted to a wider audience.

Watch a video of the full discussion below, and stay tuned next week for a recap of another exciting panel.

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Music Cities Summit 2018: ‘Celebrity Music Cities’ Panel Recap

On Saturday, May 12th, Music Canada held its third annual international Music Cities summit The Mastering of a Music City during Canadian Music Week 2018. Conference delegates, policy-makers, urban planners, and music community members all gathered to discuss topics related to the value of music, its economic impact, and its relationship to innovative city planning and creative entrepreneurship. Click here to view more recaps of panels from the summit. 

The morning featured a panel entitled Celebrity Music Cities: How Cities With Global Reputations Tackle Challenge and Leverage Noteworthiness. The panel examined how cities with a rich musical history approach the current challenges facing their music ecosystems, and how that reputation can either be a benefit or a hindrance.

The discussion was moderated by Lynn Ross, who works as a Cultural Planner at the City of Vancouver. Panelists included: Adrian Tonon, City of Detroit; Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle; Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, Owner/Manager of a prominent record label in Memphis, Tennessee; Omar Lozano from Visit Austin, Austin Tourism.

The conversation kicked off with a discussion of some of the major challenges facing each of the panelists’ cities. Councillor Josh Colle touched on the exciting growth of Toronto as a Music City, but highlighted how this rapid growth puts pressure on every aspect of the music industry – particularly for venue owners and artists who face barriers to affordability and livability.

Adrian Tonon went on to discuss how the economic crisis that plagued the City of Detroit for the last several decades meant that music, film, and other cultural services were delegated to lesser priorities. But the city has been making recent steps towards a strong recovery, and Tonon described how his work leading the Mayor’s Film, Music and Night Time Economy initiatives have helped contribute to the development of the city’s thriving arts and culture scene.

The panel also touched on the role celebrity artists can play in building up and promoting their city on a global stage. Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell highlighted the deep, rich musical history of Memphis that produced legendary icons like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Mitchell discussed the importance of not just promoting the biggest names, but to instead use that as a foundation and work towards embracing some of the newer artists whose musical catalogue could also put Memphis on the map.

Councillor Colle went on to reflect on the importance of artists like Drake and The Weeknd, who have become de-facto Toronto ambassadors, and whose success shined a light on youth hip hop scenes that were quietly thriving in cities across Canada.

Another major topic of discussion was the important relationship between city government and music stakeholder groups in the journey to develop their Music City. Detroit’s Adrian Tonon highlighted how critical it was from the city side to ensure all the key players who had been previously working in silos were brought together to have a seat at the table, and in turn, collectively strive towards implementing the city’s strategic music priorities.

Omar Lozano also touched on the uniquely important role that non-profits play in Austin. Organizations like Austin Music People and the Austin Music Venue Alliance have worked with the municipal government on various initiatives, and more broadly, are continuing to make important strides towards progressive change.

Watch a video of the full discussion below, and stay tuned next week for a recap of another panel from the summit.

 

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